So, In February I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco and Napa to help one of my sister celebrate her 40th birthday. It was my second trip to San Fran in 4 months and I still love the city as much as I did the last time that I went. There is something about the energy of the city, the enthusiasm of city, the friendless of the city … any way, you get the point, I love San Francisco. If it was for the insane cost of living in San Fran (how do people afford to live there?) and all my family being in the midwest, I would seriously be considering a move.
But, San Fran is not the subject of this blog post, mud baths are. I have been wanting to try a mud bath for AGES! Ever since I saw and episode of Rizzoli and Isles, where Jane (Rizzoli) and Maura (Isles) were having a girls day luxuriating in outdoor mud baths while drinking in wine and taking in amazing scenery. It looked so glamorous and relaxing and grownup that I have wanted to try a mud bath ever since. I guess I am fairly susceptible to advertising and the media…
However, as it turns out, finding a mud bath is semi hard to do, at least in the ‘Ville. So for the last 6-8 years (I honestly cannot remember when I first saw that specific episode) I have been keeping an eye out for a mud bath any time I was in a spa-esque city and I finally had a win when in Napa. In Napa, since we were there for my sister’s birthday, my sister and I decided to have a morning at the spa. But we wanted the experience to be semi-affordable which immediately ruled out half the spas in the Napa area. Turns out there are some fairly fancy and elaborate spas in Napa … which I guess, really shouldn’t be surprising.
So, on a beautiful and warm Saturday morning, we arrive at our spa ready for our mud baths without really a clue of what to expect (save for the Rizzoli and Isles episode that started it all). My online research pre the event basically informed me that this would be an au naturale experience – anything you would wear (bathing suit bottom or undies) would immediately be ruined. As we showed up to the spa we are guided back to the changing room and advised to strip it down, lock up any of our personal items, and slip on our robes and head to the mud room … it had a better name, but it was the mud room.
The mud room was not what I expected. It was an internal room w/ 4 vats of mud, 4 showers, 4 mineral baths, and a sauna. In the room we met our attendant who advised us to de-robe and start showering – apparently you do not want to introduce any soaps/conditions/lotion to the mud. So, while I love my sister and have shared a changing room with my sister, I gotta say it was a little weird to be walking around in my birthday suit with my sister. Especially weird, when after the shower we were guided over to our mud vats.
So the mid bath / vat part of the event was super interesting. At the spa we went to, the mud is a combination of thing that is fed by some local hot springs. The mud had peat and almost mulch in it – it was lumpy and while it wasnt coarse, it was a smooth pool of mud that you would slip into (as I had envisioned in my head). You basically lay on top of the mud, again, totally naked, shimmy/shake your way a little deeper into the mud so that you are comfortable and then your attendant starts piling the mud on top of your totally naked body. It was weird. Thankfully, after it was weird, it was warm and completely relaxing. These mud baths were powered by natural hot springs so the deeper your squirmed into your mud the warmer the mud became – and if you went deep enough the mud was crazy hot! Not hot enough to burn, but hotter than was comfortable for an extended amount of time.
We spent about 15 minutes relaxing in the mud, and to be honest I could have spent a lot more time there. To get out of the mud, you couldn’t simply stand up – you had to scoop the mud off the top half of your body (you were covered from toes to chin), lever your hands up on the side of the tub, and lift your body (mainly your booty from where you settled into the mud) up onto the side of the tub where you then continue to climb ungracefully. Well, at least I climbed ungracefully, but I honestly can’t imagine anyone getting out of the mud gracefully.
After the mud, you headed back to the showers to rinse off any residual mud. This proved to be a bit challenging – you really had mud everywhere and I mean everywhere. it took a decent amount of diligence to de-mud yourself. After the mud, we headed into the mineral baths for about 10 minutes which after the heat of the mud baths were shocking cool (supposed to help your skin and help keep people from overheating during the treatment). We chilled in the mineral baths for a while and then with the assistant of our attendant, we rose again, semi awkwardly and headed to the sauna. The sauna, was a sauna, but it was hot and steamy and simply amazing. I love saunas. We finally finished up our treatment with a nap in these little cocoon things – and shockingly after bathing nad being lazy for 45 minutes, a little 15 minute cat nap felt pretty amazing.
The mud bath was an experience. Was it an experience I need to have again? While I probably wouldn’t seek it out, if someone suggested one I may consider going again. The mud was warm and relaxing and is supposed to be really beneficial for folks with joint issues like arthritis – which I would totally believe. It was a warm and comforting experience that did leave you feel rejuvenated. It was also a good stress reliever.
Was it the most awkward spa experience I have ever had? Nope. But it was close. What was the most awkward? The Turkish Bath’s in Istanbul hands down. That level of awkwardness is an entirely different story.
Would I recommend a mud bath? Yup. It was a really neat experience that I would reccomend anyone try, especially someone with stress or join issues. But take this post as a warning – it may be a little awkward being totally naked and climbing in and out of your tub!
Until next time,